Tag Archives: MFT

Growing Local in Washington

See our film, Growing Local, at the Gibbs Library, 40 Old Union Rd in Washington! 

 While “buying local” is on the rise, the stories in Growing Local make clear that small farms and access to locally produced food is not a sure thing.

These three poignant stories help us understand the interconnected fates of Maine’s small farms, consumers and the local food movement.

Growing Local was directed and produced by Bridget Besaw of Seedlight Pictures.

3rd Annual Farmland Access Conference

In the next decade, more than 400,000 acres of Maine farmland will transition in ownership. What will happen to that land? Farmers, landowners, and farm advocates are invited to the third annual Farmland Access Conference on December 4, 2017 at the Augusta Civic Center, Augusta ME co-hosted by Maine Farmland Trust and Land For Good. The day-long conference will delve into some of the stickiest issues facing farming today. Workshops will tackle challenges of how to provide for a farm’s future when a farmer is ready to retire, and how next generation farmers can take on the stewardship of farmland in transition and shepherd the future of Maine’s food system.

Deadline to register is

Thursday, November 30. Cost of attendance is $15 per person and includes a lunch sourced from local farmers and producers.

Agenda

  • 8-8:30 Registration
  • 8:30-10 Welcome, Opening Plenary: Farmland in the Balance: At the Nexus of Access, Transfer, Viability, and Conservation
    • Chellie Pingree, US Congress (invited)
    • Walter Whitcomb, Maine Agriculture Commissioner
    • Amanda Beal, President, and CEO, Maine Farmland Trust
    • Jim Hafner, Executive Director, Land For Good

Farmland Access is a cross-cutting issue that requires multiples perspectives and approaches. Our panelists will share remarks from their own rich experiences and areas of expertise in farm access, transfer, viability, and conservation; and offer insights into what’s needed in these areas to continue making progress towards a robust and sustainable Maine food system. A facilitated discussion between the panelists and the audience will follow.  

  • 10-10:25  Break
  • 10:30-Noon  Breakout 1
  • Noon-12:45  Lunch  
  • 12:45-2  Breakout 2  
  • 2-2:25  Break
  • 2:30-3:30  Breakout 3

See the Breakout Session Descriptions here.

Questions?  Interested in sponsoring the event? Contact Erica Buswell: ebuswell@mainefarmlandtrust.org

Thank you to our sponsors!

Growing Local in York

See our film, Growing Local, at the York Public Library, 15 Long Sands Rd!  MFT Staff will be at the screening to answer questions after the film.

While “buying local” is on the rise, the stories in Growing Local make clear that small farms and access to locally produced food is not a sure thing.

These three poignant stories help us understand the interconnected fates of Maine’s small farms, consumers and the local food movement.

Growing Local was directed and produced by Bridget Besaw of Seedlight Pictures.

Annual Meeting

Join us at the United Farmers Market Building in Belfast on Tuesday, November 14th, 5:30-8:00pm, for a fun evening to celebrate MFT’s work in 2017, and to learn about the growing Maine grain economy.

We’ll hear how businesses can reinforce and reinvigorate each other, and the land, from:

Amber Lambke, Maine Grains

Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Co.

Sara Williams, Aurora Mills & Farm

+ taste beers made with Maine grains!

RSVPs appreciated: susan@mainefarmlandtrust.org or 207-338-6575

Maine Farmland Trust will soon be looking for a farmer to purchase 143 acres of land in Windham.

MFT recently bought a portion of the former Clark Farm, which includes 37 acres of open fields and excellent frontage on Swett Road. The farm will be protected with a conservation easement and sold to a farmer at a reduced price.

The property, which does not currently have any infrastructure, is located between Swett Road and Webb Road. There is extensive road frontage that allows good access to the fields along Swett Road and forested land access along Webb Road. Approximately 98 acres (70% of the property) is designated as either Prime Farmland Soils, Farmland Soils of Statewide Importance, or Farmland Soils of Local Importance.

Windham has a strong agricultural past, but given its proximity to Portland, the remaining active farms are threatened.

“Windham has a goal of balancing our relatively rapid growth with preserving the working farms that add so much to the character of the community,” said Ben Smith, Director of Planning for the Town of Windham. “The fields on Swett Road are what many residents consider to be the heart of rural Windham. In all of our planning work, these fields have been singled out for their iconic representation of Windham’s rural character.”

This is MFT’s second Buy/Protect/Sell project on Clark family land. In March 2011, MFT, in collaboration with The Trust for Public Land and the Windham Land Trust (now the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust), purchased, protected, and sold 217 acres to Clayton Haskell, who still currently owns the farm.

Representative Chellie Pingree Introduces the Local FARMS Act

On October 4, 2017, Maine’s own Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), along with Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Representative Sean Maloney (D-NY), introduced HR 3941, the Local Food And Regional Market Supply Act (The Local FARMS Act). Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has also introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Maine Farmland Trust is proud to support this bill. As MFT President Amanda Beal stated at the time of the release, “Maine Farmland Trust is excited to endorse The Local Food and Regional Market Supply Act (The Local FARMS Act). This Act provides the financial support, infrastructure development, and technical assistance that farmers in Maine need to grow the local and regional food economies. At the same time, it increases access to fresh, healthy, and locally-grown food for low-income communities in Maine. Simply put, the tools in this bill will strengthen our economy and nourish our communities. We are grateful for the sponsors of this bill, and especially Representative Chellie Pingree, for working to include these important changes in the next Farm Bill.”

Although the U.S. agricultural economy has experienced an economic downturn in recent years, growing interest from consumers has enabled farmers in Maine and across the country to connect with expanding local and regional markets and find economic success. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2015 over 167,000 U.S. farmers sold $8.7 billion worth of food to local consumers, retailers, institutions, and distributors. In addition, these local and regional food markets can have a significant impact on revitalizing rural communities and keeping families on the farm. However, despite this economic potential, there are barriers that prevent farmers and food entrepreneurs from fully participating in these markets. Such barriers include a lack of infrastructure (e.g. storage, aggregation, transportation, and processing capacity), as well as a lack of associated technical support (e.g. training, marketing, and business planning services).

The Local FARMS Act removes many of these barriers and helps to unleash the potential for greater growth of local and regional food economies in Maine and beyond by:

  • Creating a more comprehensive and efficient program called the Agricultural Market Development Program that merges the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and Value-Added Producer Grants Program. The new Program includes support for farmers’ markets, farm to retail marketing, local food enterprise development, value-chain coordination, food hubs, planning and feasibility studies, producer-owned value-added enterprises, and regional planning through public-private partnerships.
  • Creating a new Food Safety Cost-Share Program to help family farmers comply with new food safety rules and regulations by upgrading on-farm food safety infrastructure and becoming food safety certified.
  • Expanding the Food Safety Outreach Program, the food safety training program for small and medium sized family farmers, by increasing funding and prioritizing projects led by community-based organizations.
  • Reauthorizing the Organic Cost-Share Program for farmers and handlers.
  • Expanding the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program to include low-income military veterans and increased program funding.
  • Piloting a new program called the Harvesting Health Program to demonstrate and evaluate the impact of fruit and vegetable prescription projects in addressing food insecurity, supporting local agriculture, and reducing health care costs.
  • Making it easier for schools to procure locally and regionally produced food by allowing schools to use “locally grown,” “locally raised,” or “locally caught” as a product specification.
  • Expanding the ability of Rural Development and Farm Service Agency grant and loan programs to be used to support livestock, dairy, and poultry regional supply chain infrastructure.

The text of the bill can be found HERE.

Maine Farmland Trust is currently working to create a more interactive webpage for our policy program. Sign up HERE to be alerted when the page is live, and to receive policy updates and action alerts.

A Day in the Woods

Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 14 (rain date Oct. 15). Midcoast Conservancy’s Hidden Valley Nature Center in Jefferson is hosting and MFT is co-sponsoring a full day of information and fun in the woods.

A few of the highlights include:

  • Learn by listening and talking to state experts on low-impact forestry, improving the ability of forest practices to sequester carbon and enhance wildlife habitat, the benefits of conservation easements, land trust experience with forestry, and more.
  • Learn by seeing, doing and walking with pros. There will be guided walks and talks; demonstrations of logging with horses, small scale equipment, and a small European cut to length processor; workshops on trail making and tree pruning, dealing with invasive plants and bugs; exhibits and more.
  • Learn by having fun. There will be several university woodsmen team competitions, guided walks for kids with readings in the woods by Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, a Project Learning Tree tent full of fun activities for teachers and kids and more.
  • Exercise with a “Tour De Woods” fat bike ride.
  • Stomp your feet, dance, or just listen to The Gawler family performing new and old logging songs.

 

Food and beverages for purchase, including beer from several Maine breweries.

 

For more information and to register:  www.midcoastconservancy.org/events/forestry-event/

Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry

SPACE Gallery

538 Congress St.

PortlandME 04101 

 THURSDAY OCTOBER 12, 2017 at 7:00 PM

and

SUNDAY OCTOBER 15, 2017 at 4:00 PM

$8 ($6 for Space Gallery members, MFT members, and PFC members)

DOORS OPEN 1/2 HOUR BEFORE START TIME

LOOK & SEE revolves around the divergent stories of several residents of Henry County, Kentucky who each face difficult choices that will dramatically reshape their relationship with the land and their community.

In 1965, Wendell Berry returned home to Henry County, where he bought a small farm house and began a life of farming, writing and teaching.  This lifelong relationship with the land and community would come to form the core of his prolific writings. A half century later Henry County, like many rural communities across America, has become a place of quiet ideological struggle. In the span of a generation, the agrarian virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, sustainable farming, local economies and rootedness to place have been replaced by a capital-intensive model of industrial agriculture characterized by machine labor, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion and debt – all of which have frayed the fabric of rural communities. Writing from a long wooden desk beneath a forty-paned window, Berry has watched this struggle unfold, becoming one of its most passionate and eloquent voices in defense of agrarian life.

Filmed across four seasons in the farming cycle, LOOK & SEE blends observational scenes of farming life, interviews with farmers and community members with evocative, carefully framed shots of the surrounding landscape.  Thus, in the spirit of Berry’s agrarian philosophy, Henry County itself will emerge as a character in the film – a place and a landscape that is deeply interdependent with the people that inhabit it.

Presented with Space Gallery and Portland Food Co-op

watch trailer video

MLTN Stewardship Field Day at Mulberry Farms

It takes a special kind of person to be a conserved lands steward, and for the 5th year in a row, the Maine Land Trust Network is organizing a special day for all those wonderful people who dedicate their time – work or volunteer – to caring for our conserved lands. Please mark your calendars and spread the word about this year’s Stewardship Field Day.

This time around MFT is helping pull the day together, so we’re excited to be holding the activities at Mulberry Farms in Raymond, Maine. The day will cover lots of topics and we will also leave unscheduled time for discussions that pop up naturally, but we will definitely spend some time learning about (and practicing!) monitoring agricultural conservation easements. We would love to hear your suggestions for timely and meaningful stewardship discussion topics. If you have some to share, please send them along to Donna Bissett.

RSVP by sending an email to Donna Bissett: dbissett@mcht.org

Aroostook Apple Day

Celebrating Fruit Varieties for the North

October 7, 2017

10:00 am to 4:30 pm

Unitarian Church and Cup Cafe

61 Military St

Houlton

Schedule 

Sponsored by: Southern Aroostook Soil & Water Conservation District, Fedco Trees, Maine Farmland Trust and MOFGA.  Free.  For more information, or to request special accommodation, please contact: Angela Wotton: 207-254-4126 or visit SASWCD.org.